Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Prayer for the times we live in

Years ago whenever a book was published about the life of a holy person not yet canonized either the author and/or the publisher would insert a note, stating the author/publisher, was not pre-empting that which is the Church’s alone, namely declaring so and so to be a Saint.

The same applies, of course, even in our day, even if it is not always stated, for we must never pre-empt what belongs solely to Holy Mother the Church.

She is an attentive Mother and while Pope Benedict, rightly, did not automatically declare Pope John Paul to be a saint, hearing the voice of the people, the process was, at least, begun.

The diocesan stage of the process of the Servant of God Catherine Doherty has begun and in what follows I in no way intend to pre-empt Holy Mother the Church, neither when it comes to declaration of sanctity nor authenticating such and such a writing or prayer as being, although I believe it is worthy of use by the faithful, as formally approved by the Church.

That said there is a prayer composed by the Servant of God I pray daily and which I believe is a particularly powerful, indeed I would suggest a prayer of immense importance, for our day and age.

There are two prayers available invoking the help of Our Lady of Combermere, so in reference to the one commented on here you should specify ‘the one written by the Servant of God Catherine Doherty’, when asking for a copy.
The prayer in its entirety can be obtained from:

There we also find various books by the Servant of God which themselves, I believe, are of great import for anyone, laity, religious, clergy, seeking hope and consolation, courage and fidelity, as a Christian in the 21st century.

My purpose here is simply to comment on some of the aspects of the prayer asking the help of Our Blessed Mother, under her title of Our Lady of Combermere, in hopes of opening to all the wonder, the insight, the intercessory, the consoling, dimensions of this extraordinary prayer.

For example the first two words of the prayer are: Beloved Mary – these are firm relationship words, a statement of affection to be sure, but of being-heard confidence as well.

By the time we have prayed almost the entire sixteen sentences the expression will be: Beloved Mother – the relationship has deepened, become more confident, more intimate.

As the prayer is prayed do not be surprised if your heart recalls, for example, Our Lady of Guadalupe who came as a gift of hope to a suffering people; Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima, or some other of your favourite images of our Mother who loves and consoles, who counsels and urges, who intercedes unceasingly for all her children.

We are ALL her children.

This is something the Servant of God stresses throughout the prayer by her constant use of: “all, everyone, we, our, us”.

Indeed the collective expression, the all-inclusive expression if you will, is uttered, prayed, no less than twenty-one times, thereby assuring while we are speaking with Our Heavenly Mother, Our Lady of Combermere, we are carrying every human being living on earth, living in the womb, sleeping in the tomb, in our hearts as we pray. Indeed in this prayer we are bringing everyone to the loving outstretched arms, to the open heart, of Our Mother.

At the very outset of the prayer the origin and purpose, the very source Himself, of our relationship with Our Lady forms part of the invocation. It is a clear and critical statement of faith and trust.
Immediately in the same paragraph of the prayer is placed before the eyes of our hearts, and stated with trust by our praying lips, the truth of who we are in this relationship and the exquisitely authentic, maternal love-action of Our Lady for us, not merely toward us.

But we are free we human persons and so the Servant of God includes also the stark fact that to experience the fullness of this maternal love, protection, care, intercession, requires we be open, we be still, we allow ourselves to be loved.

In a word we must risk being childlike!

Today, in our so ‘adult’ culture, in a culture where deliberately being vulnerable is considered a type of sickness at worst, sheer foolishness at best, this is a challenge, but one rooted in the Gospel where Jesus Himself points out to us the vital necessity of being childlike.

The second paragraph of the prayer is a statement of fact, not with a collection of vague words about the core of the world situation, the reality of every nation and culture, but rather it is a powerful, and to a degree prophetic word, about every human being.

A true prophet does not primarily foretell what is to come but rather pulls back what clouds our eyes and hearts, revealing the actual reality we are in.

Here too the Servant of God uses the collective-personal, as if perhaps Catherine Doherty when composing these lines was herself desperately, with love, yearning that we would see-hear as we pray the words ourselves, that even in the desperateness of the human condition we are in relationship with our Heavenly Mother.

The next paragraph of the prayer is a great, passionate, clear, universal, intercession for every human being, whatever their race, faith, condition, need – but so clear is the confidence that the Blessed Virgin Mary knows exactly what’s what, there is no laundry list of we need this or we need that, rather all is contained in one central word of petition, a word which should invoke in every heart who prays this prayer the cry of so many men and women in the Gospel seeking the attention of Christ.

No one can more readily get His attention than Our Blessed Mother, hence the cry to Her is always a cry to Him through Her Heart.

Immediately within the same paragraph the intimate confidence of we children in Our Mother’s love is expressed.
This too as a universal statement of confidence not in “I” words but in “we” terms, recalling the perfect prayer Jesus taught us to Our Father.

Like the Our Father this prayer of the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, conversing with our Heavenly Mother, counters the egocentric desolation of contemporary life – perhaps the day has been spent in a “me” whirlwind – this prayer demands a “we” of heart and will enable, if we but truly trust Our Heavenly Mother, with each praying a deeper openness to Christ who calls us to learn of Him, He who is “meek and humble of Heart”.

Here I will confess I would surely love to directly quote from the prayer but there is such a powerful tenderness in what I would quote that, out of context, I fear both its blessing and beauty would be diminished, so again I urge everyone to contact Madonna House for your own copy of the prayer – and yes to pray and meditate upon it daily.

The second last short paragraph is a whole catechism, for it declares what is central to our faith, our hope, simply yet powerfully, all in right order, just as at the beginning of the prayer.

Finally the “Beloved Mother” part of the prayer, which all on its own would be a great prayer for spouses, for parents with their children, priests interceding for their parish, anyone caring for the human family, as the final prayer of the night – yep – even just the three little sentences with which the prayer comes to a confident conclusion.

All authentic prayer is rooted in the Holy Spirit coming to help us and speaking within us to the Father, for all prayer is, ultimately, Jesus, our perfect prayer to the Father.

Not every particular ‘formula’ of prayer sits easily in every heart and I certainly have, frankly, no patience with those prayers floating around for decades, first by snail mail or pamphlets in church, now on the net, which variously promise X, Y, Z good stuff if you send a zillion copies to a zillion people – or even threaten dire consequences if you do not.

I knew and was formed by the Servant of God while she was on earth and Catherine Doherty is my dearest of heavenly companions. Through her writings she remains my teacher and guide.

It is because of the blessing in my life of this simple, yet so on the mark for everyone in our day, prayer through the intercession of Our Lady of Combermere, that I have written about it here and yes, urge with love, everyone to get to know Our Lady of Combermere and her prayer as written-prayed by Catherine.

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